Infectious - 2002 - 74 minutes

Over 10 years ago, a group called Vietnam - self-proclaimed Iron Maiden wannabes - gained a reputation locally as the worst band in County Down. Tim Wheeler and Mark Hamilton were 12 at the time and Vietnam was their first attempt at conquering the intergalactic world of rock'n'roll. 1992, and Ash are born, with the recruitment of drummer Rick McMurray. The story continues on a theme of rent-boys, exams, cross-dressing, and more touring than a circus family. It's a brief insight into the history of Ash, as they release their singles collection from 1994-2002.

There's a little timeline of Ash 'events' on the back of the CD sleeve but there's no chronological order to the tracklisting. Even if there was, there's no greater or lesser change over the years. Ash are a no-nonsense band and no-nonsense music is what they do best. Every track is quality, putting many of the higher-profile artist collections out there to shame. The most recent Ash singles have gone down a treat with fans and the album 'Free All Angels' beat Janet Jackson to the coveted Number 1 spot prompting crazed drummer Rick McMurray to ring the offices of Virgin Records and leave a stirring rendition of Outkast's 'Sorry Ms Jackson' on the answering machine. Now that's rock'n'roll… well, sort of.

'Envy' is the new single to accompany the collection and it's as rockin' and uplifting as we would expect. It's an urge-driven ode to a girl - "Driven to distraction, waiting on your call, I am getting trigger happy but it doesn’t help at all…" 'Shining Light', 'Sometimes' and 'Burn Baby Burn' are also recent examples of the platinum-selling Ash at their best. We all remember jumping around the bedroom with the tennis racket to 'Girl From Mars' and the richly colourful video that accompanied it. 'Oh Yeah' was the 1996 laid-back summer anthem and 'A Life Less Ordinary' was the track that bettered the 1997 film of the same name.

There's an interesting collection of B-sides here too, presumably a limited edition on early release. They were chosen by fans from a staggeringly impressive 52 tracks. It's a great bonus and on first listen you seem to get a completely diverse style of garage-rock, but it's the same Ash, just a little bit more raw and real.

Another thing you should know about 'Intergalactic Sonic 7"s' - it makes a great drive album. Stick this in your car stereo and you'll be singing along, totally cured of road-rage. Infectious Records is the label. Infectious records they are.

David Byrne

Tracklisting: Burn Baby Burn - Envy - Girl From Mars - Shining Light - A Life Less Ordinary - Goldfinger - Jesus Says - Oh Yeah - Jack Names The Planets - Sometimes - Kung Fu - Candy - Angel Interceptor - Uncle Pat - Wild Surf - Walking Barefoot - Petrol - There's A Star - Numbskull

Bonus Disc - Cosmic Debris: No Place To Hide - Warmer Than Fire - Where Is Our Love Going - Taken Out - 13th Floor - Stormy Waters - Message From Oscar Wilde & Patrick The Brewer - Who You Drivin' Now - Stay In Love Forever - The Sweetness Of Death By The Obsidian Knife - Melon Farmer - Nocturne - Gabriel - Coasting - Lose Control - I Need Somebody - Sneaker - Cantina Band - Astral Conversations With Toulouse Lautrec - Day Of The Triffids - Halloween - Thinking About You